Hyperextension braces are commonly used to treat spinal compression fractures and help your back recover after spine surgery. This article will focus on hyperextension braces, though there are many other types of spinal braces (which your doctor may call orthotics or orthoses). To read a general bracing treatment article that describes all spinal bracing options, please read our spinal bracing overview.
What Does a Hyperextension Brace Look Like?
Hyperextension braces are used to treat fractures and back pain that occur where the thoracic spine (upper back) meets the lumbar spine (low back). It is designed to limit movement in these 2 regions of the spine.
To limit front bending, a hyperextension brace features a rectangular metal frame that goes over the front of the body. This frame puts pressure on the chest and pubic bone. Because a hyperextension brace is primarily used to treat spinal compression fractures that occur where the upper back meets the low back, this brace also puts pressure and support on the thoracic spine. This pressure keeps the spine in an extended position.
A hyperextension brace also features 3 pads that help stabilize the spine and prevent forward movement. One pad is located along the abdominals, another is higher up on the chest, and the third pad is on the back and covers the affected area.
How Does a Hyperextension Brace Work?
Hyperextension braces prevent you from bending forward too much. In turn, this prevents you from potentially interfering with the healing of your spinal compression fracture and sensitive spinal structures.
This type of spinal brace may also be prescribed if you've just had spine surgery involving the thoracic or upper lumbar region of the spine. A hyperextension brace will take the pressure off of weak vertebrae and ensure that you don't bend too far forward.
Though hyperextension braces restrict bending of the spine, you may still bend to the side and rotate.
If you are recovering from spinal compression fractures or spinal surgery, your doctor may recommend adding a hyperextension brace to your treatment plan. You will visit with an orthotist, a specialist who designs spinal braces. He or she will make sure that your hyperextension brace fits you properly, which is vital to the effectiveness of the brace. Bracing is a very personal treatment option. In other words, there are few general guidelines when it comes to using a brace. That's why it's so important that you follow your doctor's specific instructions for you.